The Risk of Identity Theft with Community Mailboxes
Over the course of the next five years, Canada Post will be phasing out door-to-door mail delivery to homes in urban areas, moving toward the use of more “community mailboxes” where the mail for several households are all delivered in a single centralized mailbox somewhere in the neighborhood. Each home still gets its own box, but this box is no longer right outside their respective front doors and they’re not through slots that lead right into their homes. Canada Post says this will save them a lot of money in the long run and it’s a measure they’re taking to eliminate losses.
Community mailboxes are not new, even in big cities. You’ll see them in condo developments, townhouse developments and new subdivisions, but they may also carry an increased risk for identity theft. When you receive a new credit card in the mail or when you receive important tax documents in the mail, these would conventionally be delivered right to your front door. There is still a risk of theft, but the risk is presumably lower than with a community mailbox located in a public area up to several blocks away. There is less security and less control with a community mailbox.
With the upcoming changes to how Canada Post will deliver residential mail, concerns about the risks associated with so-called “super boxes” have risen to the forefront. The CBC reports there were nearly 5,000 “incidents” involving community mailboxes between 2008 and 2013. Some of these were vandalism and arson, but others were also mail theft. Some community mailboxes have “been broken into at least once a year for the last decade,” said Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart. “We end up with people constantly having to go out and change their credit card numbers, change all their bank account numbers, their security systems to avoid identity theft.”
A similar story was reported by the Vancouver Sun. Canadian Union of Postal Workers Vancovuer local president Kim Evans says that it is “definitely a concern” and that there have been “numerous break-ins of mailboxes,” largely because you are “creating a one-stop shop for thieves.” The people who are stealing the mail for the purpose of identity theft are able to break into several mailboxes all at once, which is far easier than if they had to steal the mail going door to door.
These concerns over identity theft and mail theft must be addressed by Canada Post, possibly by increasing the locks and other mechanisms used in the community mailboxes. This is in addition to other problems associated with the increased use of “super boxes.” With mailbox rental for just $30 per month, a far safer and more secure solution is available.
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